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GROTON — Buoyed by a $50,000 grant from Middlesex Savings Bank in 2018, the Groton Dunstable Education Foundation (GDEF) is pleased to announce that it has funded the implementation of Responsive Classroom training in the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District.

Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness. The program has been described by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) as among the most “well-designed evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs.”

Training began in the Groton-Dunstable Middle School in the 2018-19 school year and will extend into Swallow Union and Florence Roche in the 2019-20 school year.

GDEF’s funding of this project began in 2018 with an initial grant of $25,000 that allowed teachers at our Groton-Dunstable Middle School to participate in Responsive Classroom Training, led by Michelle Bensen. At this training, teachers learned how to implement strategies to create a classroom community that fosters collaboration, community, and social emotional learning.

According to Caitlyn Morris, a sixth-grade science teacher, “Many of us would like the opportunity to meet again either in the summer or during the school year. It would be great to form a professional learning community,” demonstrating the success of the program in the GD Middle School.

Building on the success of this initial grant, GDEF has now awarded the GDRSD a second grant of $25,000 — making full use of Middlesex Savings Bank grant — to extend this program into the Florence Roche and Swallow Union Elementary Schools.

As noted by Katie Novak, GDRSD assistant superintendent, “When students receive social emotional supports that are aligned with academic and behavioral efforts, they fare better on…academic achievement metrics, positive social behaviors and attitudes. We need to ensure that our teachers have a framework to support students with the key social emotional (SEL) competencies.”

During the 2019-20 academic year, all district’s K-4 educators will have extensive training in social/emotional learning and ongoing support from experts in the fields of social/emotional learning.

GDEF’s support of this initiative was made possible by the generosity of Middlesex Savings Bank and, as noted by Emily Davis, GDEF Board President, “Middlesex Savings Bank has been a wonderful partner in helping our organization to work with the district administration to build this new program.”

For more on GDEF, see www.gdefinc.org.